Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012

A profile of persons with disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years or older, 2012

A profile of persons with disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years or older, 2012: Highlights

  • According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, 14% of the Canadian population aged 15 years or older reported having a disability that limited them in their daily activities―an estimated 3.8 million people.
  • The prevalence of disability varied by province from 10% in Quebec to 19% in Nova Scotia. In the territories, the prevalence was 14% in Yukon, 8% in the Northwest Territories, and 7% in Nunavut.
  • The prevalence of disability increased with advancing age. The average age of onset was the early 40s. About 13% of persons with disabilities who were of working age (15 to 64 years) reported that their disability existed at birth.
  • Women (15%) reported a higher prevalence of disability than did men (13%).
  • About a quarter of persons with disabilities were classified as having a very severe disability.
  • Disabilities related to pain (10%), flexibility (8%), and mobility (7%) were the most prevalent. Most persons with disabilities (76%) had more than one disability.
  • While 27% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 years without disabilities had a university degree at the bachelor’s level or higher, the figure among those with disabilities was 14%. The percentage with a university degree decreased as the severity of the disability increased. Just under half of 25- to 64-year-olds whose disabilities existed before they completed school reported that the condition influenced their choice of courses and career and 30% indicated that it took them longer to achieve their present level of education.
  • Close to half (47%) of 15- to 64-year-olds with disabilities reported that they were employed, compared with 74% of those without disabilities. More persons with disabilities (45%) were not in the labour force compared to those without disabilities (21%). A quarter (27%) of persons with disabilities who were employed indicated that their employer was not aware of their work limitation. Among the working-age population with disabilities, 24% required modified hours or days or reduced work hours.
  • In 2010, the self-reported median total income of persons aged 15 to 64 years with disabilities was just over $20,000, compared with just over $30,000 for those without disabilities. For 37% of persons with disabilities aged 15 to 64 years, non-employment income (pensions, lump-sum payments or investment income) was their only source of income.
  • More than 80% of persons with disabilities reported using at least one aid or assistive device, and 27% needed at least one aid that they did not have. A slightly higher percentage of women than men (83% versus 80%) used at least one aid or assistive device. The prevalence of unmet needs for aids varied by age, peaking at 30% among 45- to 64-year-olds. Cost was the most commonly reported reason for unmet needs for aids or assistive devices.
  • Three-quarters (76%) of persons with disabilities reported taking a prescription medication at least once a week.
  • Help with heavy household chores was the assistance most commonly received by persons with disabilities (49%). Family members were the most commonly reported source of help.
  • Public transit was used by 20% of persons with disabilities; 8% reported using specialized transit. While the majority reported no difficulty using public or specialized transit, this depended on the severity of disability―the prevalence of experiencing “a lot” of difficulty increased from 3%Note E: use with caution of those with mild disabilities to 29% of those with very severe disabilities.


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